Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Alcohol and the Christian

I am currently reading the autobiography of John. G. Paton, Missionary to the New Hebrides (modern-day Vanuatu). In his younger days before he went out to the mission field, he was involved in missions work in Glasgow among the poor and destitute. He had a large ministry among former drunks, and held a weekly Total Abstainers’ Meeting. I though that his words concerning alcohol and the professing Christian were very apt, and ones with which I agree:

From observation, at an early age I became convinced that mere Temperance Societies were a failure, and that Total Abstinence, by the grace of God, was the only sure preventative as well as remedy. What was temperance to in one man was drunkenness in another; and all the drunkards came, not from those who practiced total abstinence, but from those who practiced or tried to practice temperance… It has all my life appeared to me… that the only rational temperance is Total Abstinence from them [alcoholic drinks] as beverages… as they are deceptive and deleterious poisons of the most debasing and demoralizing kind. I found also, that when I tried to reclaim a drunkard, or caution any one as to intemperate habits, one of the first questions was:

“Are you a pledged Abstainer yourself?”

By being enabled to reply “Yes, I am,” the mouth of the objector was closed; and that gave me a hundred-fold more influence with him than if I had had to confess that I was only “temperate”

For the good of others and for the increase of their personal influence as the servants of Christ, I would plead with every one who wishes to work for the Lord Jesus in the Family, the Church and the World, to be a Total Abstainer from all intoxicating drinks and beverages.

Mr. Paton goes on to express his disapprobation to the use of tobacco, but that while it is injurious to one’s health, the evils that flow from it are not to be in comparison to the “unutterable woes and miseries of intemperance.

What do you think of Christians drinking? Even in moderation? Is it a practice that should be encouraged, discouraged or left alone in the Church of Christ?

6 comments:

Josh said...

The Bible doesn't forbid drinking so neither should we. The Bible does hold some very strong warnings against it (Proverbs 23:29-35 being my favourite - it's so true) and we should take that into careful consideration. Instead of bashing about judgments of "no" vs "yes" and "too much" vs "not enough" we should look to understand God's heart. This isn't about our freedom and rights, it's about Jesus who died to set us free. If we get that right, eveything else starts to fall into place.

Eppie said...

Like Paton says drunkards are people who have attempted to drink in moderation and have been made fools of by it. The Bible does not contain the words "Thou shalt not drink alcohol" but it does contain strong warnings of the dangers of it.

So maybe we shouldn't say Drinking is Forbidden, but we definitely should say the Bible says wine is a mocker.

Armen said...

I agree with most of his assertions, except, "...as they are deceptive and deleterious poisons of the most debasing and demoralizing kind."

It's the heart that's deceptive, not really the substance.

Caroline said...

well, there are more serious warnings and more prolific warnings given in scripture against other things...like guarding our tongues...and yet Christians make a big fuss over alcohol and don't worry about things that are dealt with in more depth. I have no problem with it in small amounts. There. Throw tomatoes if you please. But, the long and short is, it's down to Christian liberty, and I wouldn't ever have it in the presence of a "weaker brother".

Menekse said...

Caroline made a very good point that "there are more prolific warnings given in Scripture against other things".

As Christians, we don't have any rights but we do have a duty to Christ to live a life pleasing to Him - therefore all of our actions should be in line with that. It is down to personal conscience.

I don't drink because it would be a terrible witness to my Islamic family who don't drink at all - as well as the culture that surrounds drink. It is such a commonplace thing now, that i find i get many witnessing opportunities with people (especially in my workplace) when i tell them i'm "Tee-Total".

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